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Enough is enough!

I am an enemy to all these douceurs [bribes], tributes & humiliations. what the laws impose on us let us execute faithfully; but nothing more … Congress [should receive] a full statement of every expence which our transactions with the Barbary powers has occasioned, & of what we still owe, that they may be enabled to decide, on a full view of the subject, what course they will pursue. I know that nothing will stop the eternal increase of demand from these pirates but the presence of an armed force, and it will be more economical & more honorable to use the same means at once for suppressing their insolencies
To James Madison, August 28, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders stand up to bullies.
For decades, the city-states of North Africa had preyed upon shipping in the Mediterranean. They demanded annual payment from those ships’ home nations, or they would capture the vessels and hold sailors for ransom. Jefferson had first encountered this offense in the 1780s as America’s ambassador to France and again in the 1790s as Secretary of State and Vice-President. Now as President he was confronted with even more offense. One of the Barbary states commandeered an American ship and its crew to run errands for them.

As chief executive, he was bound by Congress’ will, and they had put the problem off year after year. He was tired of both Barbary offenses and Congressional inaction. He wanted the full cost of American acquiescence presented to Congress, hoping it would shock them into finally funding a strong military response.

Jefferson knew that was only effective way to end the piracy. It would cost more up front but less than bribes, ransoms and the resulting dishonor year after year. His administration took the first decisive and victorious action against the North African nations, but it would be 15 more years before the pirates were finally defeated.

“You did a remarkable job of interpreting Jefferson’s character
and transplanting him, his thoughts, and ideas into the 21st century.”
MFA Petroleum Company/Break Time Convenience Stores
Mr. Jefferson’s ideas are relevant to your audience’s future success.
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Let us observe Thanksgiving on December 9.

Whereas the Honourable the General Congress, impressed with a grateful sense of the goodness of Almighty God … hath thought proper … to recommend to the several states that Thursday the 9th of December next be appointed a day of publick and solemn thanksgiving and prayer …

I do therefore by authority from the General Assembly issue this my proclamation, hereby appointing Thursday the 9th day of December next, a day of publick and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God, earnestly recommending to all the good people of this commonwealth, to set apart the said day for those purposes, and to the several Ministers of religion to meet their respective societies thereon, to assist them in their prayers, edify them with their discourses, and generally to perform the sacred duties of their function, proper for the occasion.
Thomas Jefferson’s Proclamation as Governor, November 11, 1779

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

The Continental Congress requested the States to issue their individual proclamations for a day of thanksgiving and prayer on December 9. America’s war for independence was continuing, and its successful conclusion was far from guaranteed. Jefferson was Governor of Virginia at the time, and he issued the summons.

The bulk of Jefferson’s proclamation contains the language offered by the Congress. While he would have agreed with the great majority of sentiments expressed, he would have taken exception to some, particularly with regard to Christianity. Because this proclamation was issued over his name, some might claim all of those sentiments were his. Not so. Jefferson was thankful and encouraged gratitude in others, but he issued this proclamation in his official capacity, not as an individual.

The closing paragraph above was Jefferson’s own words. He recommended the day as a religious one, for thanksgiving and prayer, and for ministers to assist their congregants toward that end. Jefferson was not anti-religion. He very much supported the moral influence religion offered to its adherents and to society, but he drew a hard line against any creed (or individual) dictating what people must think or do.

In some unpublished drafts written as President, he specifically declined to make such proclamations, believing them to be religious in nature. As head of the national government, he believed the Constitution forbade his making those recommendations. Those expressions were the province of the states and religious leaders only.

Thomas Jefferson, personally, would not hesitate at all
to wish you a happy and grateful Thanksgiving Day!
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Weak leaders avoid the tough calls.

I have known mr Page from the time we were boys & classmates together, & love him as a brother. but I have always known him the worst judge of man existing. he has fallen a sacrifice to the ease with which he gives his confidence to those who deserve it not.
To Albert Gallatin, August 28, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders can’t avoid tough choices just to please people.
Jefferson sought opinions from three men about the qualifications of a certain individual for an appointment to a federal office. One of those three was fellow Virginian John Page (1743-1808), his oldest friend. They had been close since their student days at the College of William and Mary, 40 years before.

It appears that Page had already responded with a recommendation for the man being considered even though Page had not met him. Jefferson expected the other two replies soon. He affirmed his affection for Page, but said he was a poor choice of character. Page found it easier to avoid tough calls and praise people whether they deserved it or not.

[We] hired Mr. Patrick Lee to perform as Thomas Jefferson
at our regional meetings around the state …
The result was far beyond our expectations.”
Executive Vice President, Missouri Bankers Association
Mr. Jefferson will exceed your expectations!
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Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Leadership, Personalities of others Tagged , , , , , |

This is what I think. You decide.

have we a right to give passages generally to private individuals whenever a public vessel is passing from one place to another? … these are my hasty thoughts on the subject. be so good as to weigh & correct them, & do in it what you think right.—
To James Madison, August 22, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Confident leaders let trusted subordinates make their own decisions.
Jefferson wrote to his Secretary of State about a number of issues in this letter. One was the prickly matter of granting permission to a private individual to travel on an American ship as if he had some kind of official status.
Jefferson gave his off-the-cuff thoughts. He invited his dear friend and trusted lieutenant Madison to review them, correct where he was wrong, and make whatever decision he thought best.

“I want to express my thanks to you
for your outstanding presentation …
Program Co-Chair, Missouri Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science
Mr. Jefferson will make an outstanding presentation for your audience!
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Leave a comment Posted in Leadership Tagged , , , , , , , |

I am very anxious to obtain the disease here.

… inoculated two persons with the matter [cowpox vaccine] of the 24th. & 4. with that of the 26th. the latter has no effect, but the two former shew inflammation & matter. one of them complains of pain under the arm pit, & yesterday was a little feverish … we have considerable hopes he has the true infection … you shall be regularly informed of the progress & success of this business … I am very anxious to obtain the disease here.
To Benjamin Waterhouse, August 14, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Persistent leaders keep trying until they find something that works.
New England physician Waterhouse (1754-1846), one of the founders of Harvard Medical School, was the first person to test the cowpox vaccine in America, on four of his own children. His effort to enlist President Adams’ support for a public campaign was unsuccessful, but President Jefferson embraced the concept immediately.

This is one of several letters in 1801 where Jefferson wrote about the cowpox vaccine. Numerous attempts to induce immunity by infecting healthy people with the live vaccine had been unsuccessful. In this account, Jefferson reported the first hoped-for response at Monticello, evidence of an slight infection. Immunity to cowpox also protected against the much more deadly smallpox.

Jefferson would later have all of his family and slaves inoculated and circulated the vaccine widely among his Virginia neighbors. Some accounts credit Jefferson with conducting the first mass public health campaign in America.

“The feedback from our conferees has been overwhelmingly favorable …”
Executive Director, Missouri Safety Council
Try something special for your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Health, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Wrestling with hypotheticals is a time-suck.

…. let it be known that a fact is authentic, & what is it’s exact character, & then we may act on real & not hypothetical ground. the real facts arising will occupy all our time. if we spend any in hypothetical discussions, we shall want time for real business.
To Robert Smith, August 14, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Focused leaders devote time to what is, not what could be.
Smith was Secretary of Navy and involved in discussions with Jefferson and Secretary of State Madison concerning ships captured by other nations and brought to American ports. There was general agreement to prohibit all such “prizes” by all nations. Yet, foreign ambassadors, reading rumors about these prizes in the newspapers, were asking what American policy would be if these accounts were true.

Jefferson addressed this issue here. He did not want spend time on what might be. If they did, they would not have time to deal with what was.

“… your command of Mr. Jefferson’s persona and mind
and your facility in answering complex questions were impressive.”
Chair, The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial 3 Flags Festival
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience!
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No bones about it!

I have to … congratulate you on the prospect you have of obtaining a compleat skeleton of the great incognitum [American mammoth], and [your having] zeal enough to devote himself to the recovery of these great animal monuments … whenever your skeleton is mounted, I will certainly pay it a visit.
To Charles Willson Peale, July 29, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
This leader liked BIG bones, the bigger the better.
Jefferson was interested in everything scientific! He had a particular interest in large bones to impress skeptical Europeans, who thought animals in America were inferior in size to ones on their continent.

Peale discovered this skeleton in New York and had retrieved enough bones to identify his find. The rest of the bones were still buried in a 12 foot pit full of water. Jefferson would order the Navy secretary to loan him a pump and tents to carry on his work!

Since Peale had already spent $300 on this project, needed financial backers. Jefferson wanted to be one but regretted the expenses of establishing himself in Washington City had put him under the greatest “pecuniary restraints” he had known. He hoped that situation would ease, allowing him to contribute before Peale no longer needed it.

This link contains a painting of the skeleton reassembled in Peale’s famous museum in Philadelphia.

“I want to compliment … Patrick Lee for the excellent presentation
he made as Thomas Jefferson …”
President & CEO, Citizens National Bank
Mr. Jefferson will make an excellent presentation for your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Natural history (science)

Some are so jaded they gripe about everything.

[Some news] papers will make a noise about it [replacing federalist appointees with republicans]. but we see they are determined to blame every thing … & therefore consider their clamours … consequently not to be regarded.
To Benjamin Hitchborn, July 29, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know some will always stand in opposition.
Jefferson wrote of his plans to remove certain office-holders whose views were openly antagonistic to his administration. He knew some newspapers would oppose him, no matter the issue. Since they would not give him the time of day, regardless of his actions, he had no regard for their criticism.

“The decision to bring Patrick Lee was a wise one … “
Schoor-Depalma, Engineers & Consultants, Manalapan, NJ
Your audience will think your decision to bring Mr. Jefferson was a wise one.
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How strong should the government be?

… those who will be satisfied with a government of energy enough to protect persons & property sacredly, will not, I trust, be disappointed: while no effort will be spared to prevent unnecessary burthens to the labouring man.
To William Bingham, July 29, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-limiting leaders free their followers from unnecessary burdens.
Bingham (1751-1804) was a very prosperous Pennsylvania businessman and Federalist poltician. As U.S. Senator, he administered the oath of office when Jefferson assumed the Vice-Presidency in 1797.

The previous post contained correspondence between them. Bingham was leaving America for a time after the death of his wife. Though a political opponent, he wished Jefferson success in his Presidency and hoped for America’s continuing prosperity.

Jefferson thanked Bingham for his kind remarks. Those who believed, as he did, that the only function of the national government was a sacred responsibility to protect its people and their property would not be disappointed in his Presidency. The government had to be strong enough to do that but no more. In limiting his administration to that goal, he pledged a very light burden on the laboring man, whose taxes would be necessary to support anything more.

“… thanks for your excellent program … being our 50th year …
we wanted to make the meeting very special …”
Past President, Cole County Historical Society
Mr. Jefferson will make the program for your audience very special.
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The only medicine works slowly and not very effectively.

Being about to embark for Europe, (induced to change the Scenes which Surround me, from a recent melancholy Event having rendered them peculiarly distressing) …
William Bingham to Thomas Jefferson, July 25, 1801

I had before felt a sincere concern for the circumstance which has made you wish for a change of scene, having myself … learnt from experience the indelible effects of such a loss. time is the only medicine & but an imperfect one.
To William Bingham, July 29, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know recovery comes only with time.
Bingham’s “melancholy event” was the death two months earlier of his wife and the mother of their three children. He was leaving for Europe to escape surroundings that reminded him of her.

Jefferson knew what Bingham was experiencing. His wife Martha died in 1783. Time was his only medicine then, as it would be Bingham’s.

A change of scenery can help, though. It was through the action of his friends that Jefferson became a minister to France after Martha’s death. His recovery continued there, probably faster than it would have come if he remained at Monticello.

There is a delightful letter from the late Anne Willing Bingham to Minister Jefferson in Paris in 1787. She acknowledged his position that “many of the fashionable pursuits of the Parisian Ladies” made them trivial in his sight. She countered very good-naturedly that he had ignored their good qualities and proceeded to enlighten him.

“It was a pleasure to have you perform as Thomas Jefferson …
[You] set just the right historical sense of place
to match our convention theme,
The Journey Ahead.

Executive Director, Association of Partners for Public Lands
Mr. Jefferson will tailor his remarks to enhance the theme of your meeting.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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